Twice the Twirlers

Good pitchers don’t just go out and pitch.

They must always have a plan. They must visualize. They know what they have, the batter knows what they have, then they try to work it out.

For Crescenta Valley High junior softball pitchers Heather Bacon and Kali Cancelosi, it’s an educated deduction every time they are in the circle staring at their catcher for a sign.

There’s no argument that the Falcons have consistently been an offensive force throughout the season. However, when it’s time to exchange the bats for gloves, the Falcons turn to Bacon and Cancelosi to keep them in games by shutting the opposition down.

Bacon and Cancelosi have been overshadowed, but are just as crucial as the imposing lineup for the top-seeded Falcons (28-0), who will meet host Santa Monica (23-8) in a CIF Southern Section Division III quarterfinal contest at 3:15 p.m. today.

“We don’t have egos here, and that’s been a blessing for the program,” said Crescenta Valley Coach Dan Berry, whose team opened the playoffs with home victories against Hemet and Highland. “With Heather and Kali, they have helped each other mature together.

“It’s the first time at CV where we’ve had a rotation that’s been used regularly. I tell them the day before a game who will be pitching. We try to play the system that we’ve got going.”

Bacon (13-0) and Cancelosi (15-0) have provided the Falcons with top-notch results throughout the season. The right-handers have handled their responsibilities well to put the Falcons in line in their quest to win the program’s first CIF championship since 1986.

After rolling through the regular season en route to winning the program’s 20th Pacific League championship, Cancelosi picked up the victory against Hemet on Friday before Bacon turned back Highland on Tuesday in her postseason debut. For good measure, Cancelosi had a key two-run single as the designated player with two outs to give the Falcons a 2-0 lead in a game they won, 6-2. Bacon collected nine strikeouts.

“I seemed to be more focused [against Highland] than I did in the regular season,” said Bacon, who has struck out 99 and has a 0.83 earned-run average in 84 1/3 innings. “I stepped it up more because I knew that I had to pitch well.

“I’m thankful that I have somebody like Kali who can back me up. It’s hard to pitch on a team that’s got just one pitcher.”

Cancelosi handled the bulk of the pitching chores last year, earning All-Area and all-league honors as she led the Falcons to a share of the league crown.

Though the Falcons would eventually lose to Fullerton in the second round of the playoffs, Cancelosi found ways to improve and learn more about the value of being a pitcher.

“I like the different situations that you can be in,” said Cancelosi, who has a 0.27 ERA and has struck out 86 in 78 2/3 innings. “You learn more about the game being in your hand and you still have to go out there and make your pitches work.

“With Heather being here, she’s somebody who can help me out. It’s a relief.”

It’s been a relief for the Falcons when they have been in close games.

A couple close victories against league foes Burbank and Burroughs, for example, proved to be playoff-like contests that helped establish Bacon and Cancelosi.

“You put that combo together and you can’t beat their heart and talent,” Berry said. “You could see [in those games] that they are both highly competitive.”

Just as one can see in every Falcons game how important, not one, but both Crescenta Valley twirlers truly are.

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